9.24.2009

There is only one choice in Afghanistan

That choice is to win at all costs. I understand perfectly well the dangers and problems of our prolonged involvement in Afghanistan and the historical difficulties in governing the region. I know that anything that increases our troop levels will inevitably result in more troops in harm's way and more casualties.

Even so, I trust the judgment of Gen. McChrystal and Gen. Petraeus.

The goal in Afghanistan must be a stable, legitimate government. While we would all prefer a democracy, we must be willing to accept a government that is fair and respectful of human rights even if it is less than our view of democracy. This will not be easy and it will not be quick, but we have no other choice.

There are those who would argue that our goal should only be destroying Al Qaeda. They argue that Afghanistan is ungovernable and that we should focus our efforts on the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and leave Afghanistan to whatever future it's people choose. Such a view is naive and ignorant of recent history.

Our failure in Afghanistan - whether it be from surrender by withdrawal, or abandonment of our fight with the Taliban - will destroy our nation's reputation in the region. Al Qaeda and the Taliban will both claim victory and the Afghan people will view us as abandoning them. Should we ignore Gen. McChrystal's recommendation Afghans will rightly assume that we are not serious about defeating the Taliban. At that point, what incentive do they have to trust us? What reason can we give them to risk their lives by siding with us and the Afghan government, instead of the thugs and terrorists?

If we leave Afghanistan, and by this I mean draw down, or shift to an Al Qaeda-only strategy, the Taliban will eventually regain control of Afghanistan. It will once again become a safe-harbor for Islamic extremists who will undoubtedly launch attacks against America and the West. The extremists will be emboldened by a victory against the Great Satan and will not sit idle.

President Obama has thus far been very good on defense and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He placed his faith in Secretary Gates and Gens. Petraeus and McChrystal. I hope the President shows true leadership and shows the world that America will not concede to extremists or terrorists.

We can win. We must win. There is no other option.